Historic €355 million Top 14 TV deal suspended by Parisian court

The rights to screen the French league will be put out to tender again before March of next year.

Toulon picked up the Bouclier de Brennus last season.
Toulon picked up the Bouclier de Brennus last season.
Image: AP/Press Association Images

THE COURT OF Appeal of Paris has confirmed that the historic €355 million television rights deal between the Ligue Nationale de Rugby [LNR] and French broadcaster Canal+ has been suspended.

The five-year contract lasting from 2014 until 2019,  and worth over €70m per season, was signed in January after Canal+ had apparently beaten off the competition of the Qatari-owned beIN Sports.

However, beIN Sports referred the case to France’s Autorité de la concurrence, the national competition regulator, who found that the tender process had seen an “anticompetitive agreement” between the LNR and Canal+.

With the Parisian Court of Appeal having now confirmed the Autorité de la concurrence‘s order that the €355m contract be suspended, following an appeal by Canal+ against that order, a new tender process for the rights to broadcast the Top 14 will opened before 31 March, 2015.

The contract between the LNR and Canal+ will stand for the current season, which is already eight games old, meaning the tender process will decide upon the rights for the 2015/16 season onwards.

The Court of Appeal of Paris say the tender process must be “transparent, non-discriminatory and for a duration that is not disproportionate” this time around, according to Sud Ouest, meaning beIN Sports will have strong hopes of usurping Canal+.

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BeIN, a subsidiary of Al-Jazeera, recently secured the rights to screen every game in the Rugby Champions Cup in France, something that had previously been shared with Canal+.

The LNR have had a 20-year relationship with Canal+, who have provided strong coverage of the Top 14 throughout that relationship. However, beIN are determined to muscle their way into the mix and have the financial might to do so.

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Murray Kinsella

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